By Lusie Cuskey

Join Ohio Wesleyan University’s Department of Performing Arts for the first fully staged production of “Absolute Zero,” a developing musical hailed by Broadway World as “a taut, funny musical thriller” that offers “a gleeful reclamation of the patriarchal and often sexist spy genre.”

Things are heating up for the CIA’s coolest agent, Sam Knight, when her quest to shut down a terrorist set on freezing the planet turns into a high-stakes confrontation with a former lover who has absolutely zero chill. Following international breadcrumbs, infiltrating armies of clones, and irritating INTERPOL is business as usual for the suave superspy. Cracking open her icy exterior to battle the inner demons left behind after her wife’s death? That’s not the kind of fight Knight signed up for.

The OWU Department of Performing Arts will present five performances of “Absolute Zero” at 7:30 p.m. April 11, 12, 13, 19, and 20 on the Main Stage of Chappelear Drama Center, 45 Rowland Ave., Delaware. The April 13 performance will be followed by a talkback with the musical’s writers and members of the cast and production team. Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance by visiting

Lusie Cuskey, Ph.D., assistant professor of theatre, is the director and fight choreographer for “Absolute Zero,” and Jason Hiester, D.M.A., associate professor of music, is the music director. Mhairi Kerr is the intimacy choreographer. The show features a set design by Carrie Hurst, technical director for the OWU theatre program; costume design by Jaylene Jennings; and lighting design by Rowan Winterwood.

“Most of the stories of classic spies were about men, so [‘Absolute Zero’ is] really painting the world we want to see,” says lyricist and librettist Dorie Clark about the musical written for a cast of nine women, trans, and nonbinary performers. And composer Marie Incontrera adds, “We get to fill every role, from the heroes to the villains and everybody in between. People who aren’t often represented in theatre are completely centered.”

Nine Ohio Wesleyan students are performing in “Absolute Zero.” The students, their hometowns, and their roles are:

  • Dyna Bresson of Columbus, Ohio, as Lauren.
  • Emily Clausing of Portsmouth, Ohio, as ensemble and Lauren understudy.
  • Katie Davis of Bryan, Ohio, as ensemble and Sam and Elsa understudy.
  • Kaya Ferrell of Delaware, Ohio, as Edith.
  • Emerson Freas of Oberlin, Ohio, as Elsa Von Braun.
  • Morgan Gioffredo of Castalia, Ohio, as ensemble and Chief understudy.
  • Callie Staley of Columbus, Ohio, as the Chief.
  • Haleigh Stover of Marion, Ohio, as ensemble and Edith understudy.
  • Maja Todorović of Chicago, Illinois, as Sam Knight.

28 OWU students are taking on production jobs in “Absolute Zero.” These students, their hometowns, and their responsibilities are:

  • Abigail Bennett of Caledonia, Ohio, as costume crew.
  • Eliza Bergman of University Heights, Ohio, as costume crew and run crew.
  • Brooke Black of Springfield, Ohio, as sound board operator and publicity crew.
  • Willow Brown of Elyria, Ohio, as carpentry crew.
  • Samara Clarke of Columbus, Ohio, as props crew.
  • Abby Colbow of Mentor, Ohio, as assistant stage manager.
  • Sam Conti of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as sound crew and run crew.
  • Brielle Decarolis of Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, as stage manager.
  • Tricia “Toni” DiLalla of Avon, Ohio, as carpentry crew and run crew.
  • Aidan Dondero of Novelty, Ohio, as light crew and carpentry crew.
  • Johnathan Ellis of Dublin, Ohio, as props crew head.
  • Adrian Enrique of Farmington, Connecticut, as light crew.
  • Pedro Figueiredo of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, as publicity head.
  • Ami Hartshorne of Columbus, Ohio, as light board operator and light crew.
  • El Healey of Westlake, Ohio, as light crew head and run crew.
  • Max Huntington of Newton, Massachusetts, as light crew.
  • Korryn Karcher of Mount Cory, Ohio, as props crew.
  • Madison Klinger of Wickliffe, Ohio, as costume crew.
  • Nic Laurence of Medina, Ohio, as assistant director.
  • August Lemert of Granville, Ohio, as costume crew head and assistant costume designer.
  • Gen Maddox of Bridgeville, Delaware, as assistant stage manager.
  • Jack Miller of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, as assistant music director.
  • Milo Morton of Dover, Delaware, as costume crew.
  • Michael Nimrick of Solon, Ohio, as sound crew head and carpentry crew.
  • Kai Nordlund of Galloway, Ohio, as props crew.
  • Melody Rapela of Danville, California, as costume crew.
  • Owen Rehak of Gates Mills, Ohio, as light crew.
  • Elizabeth Sumoza of Chicago, Illinois, as sound crew and run crew.

The production features genre-typical adult content; complete content disclosures are available via the ticketing website. For more information about the musical, OWU’s 2023-2024 performance schedule, or studying performing arts at Ohio Wesleyan, visit

Photo: Ohio Wesleyan’s production of ‘Absolute Zero’ features, from left, Maja Todorović as Sam Knight, Kaya Ferrell as Edith, and Dyna Bresson as Lauren. Costume design is by Jaylene Jennings. (Photo by Brielle Decarolis)

Source, Photo: OWU; Image by 422737 from Pixabay

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